Immediately after US President Donald Trump tweeted threatening to "quickly and fully strike back" if Iran retaliates, country's House Foreign Affairs Committee responded to his tweet saying Trump should read the War Powers Act and that he is not a dictator.
Donald Trump on Saturday threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites "very hard" if Iran attacks Americans or US assets after a drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Showing no signs of seeking to ease tensions raised by the strike he ordered that killed Soleimani and Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport on Friday, Trump issued the threat to Iran on Twitter.
The strike has raised the spectre of wider conflict in the Middle East.
Afterwards, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted - "This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you're not a dictator."
What is War Powers Act?
The War Powers Resolution, also known as the War Powers Resolution of 1973 or the War Powers Act) is a federal law intended to check the US President's power to commit the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of the US Congress.
The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States congressional joint resolution. It provides that the President can send the US Armed Forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, "statutory authorization," or in case of "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."
The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30-day withdrawal period, without a congressional authorization for use of military force (AUMF) or a declaration of war by the United States.
Destroying cultural sites as war crime
An attack on a cultural site would violate several international treaties and would likely be considered a war crime.
In 2017, for example, a United Nations Security Council resolution "condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, including the destruction of religious sites and artifacts." That resolution came as a response to the Islamic State's destruction of a number of major historic and cultural sites in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and 2015.
The UN was clear then that actions targeting cultural locations constituted a war crime.
"The deliberate destruction of our common cultural heritage constitutes a war crime and represents an attack on humanity as a whole," said the spokesman for then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2015.
Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs and ambassador to NATO, noted the Trump administration supported the 2017 UN resolution condemning destruction of cultural sites.
"His threat is immoral and Un-American," Burns wrote on Twitter.